By Michel Nkurunziza
Survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, in Bugesera District, are reaping from unity and reconciliation joint efforts as well as agribusiness in which they jointly ventured with each member’s contribution of Rwf100 every month.
The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi left the country shattered and since then the country embarked on rebuilding journey.
Part of the journey is reunifying and reconciling Rwandans.
It is in this context that 44 members – some genocide survivors and others perpetrators of the genocide- living in Mayange sector of Bugesera district have fostered unity and reconciliation while striving for economic transformation
The families are jointly running income generating activities such as agriculture, livestock and basket weaving.
Charles Mugabonake, The Cooperative president said that the journey started in 2006 and started farming in 2009 with cassava.
“We started with a Rwf100 contribution by each member every month. When we had saved Rwf16, 000, we then leased tillable land where we planted cassava. It was our trial in agribusiness which was followed by growing beans and sweet potatoes as well as rearing livestock,” he said.
He said that the cooperative also has stores of their harvest that help members to afford seeds for planting in every planting season.
“We also grow vegetables such as cabbages and tomatoes,” he said.
He said that apart from satisfying members’ basic needs, the savings are spent on other investments to benefit the members.
Mugabonake said they spend the savings to lease tillable land.
“The sector has also pledged to give us land where we can expand our agribusiness. Currently we are about to harvest tomatoes, cabbages, soybean, potatoes on 2.5 hectares which we leased at least Rwf280, 000 from our savings,” he said.
From the savings, the farmers have also bought their own three pieces of tillable land.
“Our own land is now over one hectare. This is a very big achievement thanks to the joint efforts,” he said.
He said that most of the cooperative members have got cows using the savings from the agricultural activities.
“Every member has to get their own cows from the savings. If a member’s cow dies, we can also use the savings to compensate them. This means we intervene to solve any issue faced by the member,” he noted.
He said the members have been benefiting from the profits of the agribusiness.
“Members afford health insurance, feed their families and satisfy other needs. Every year during the festive seasons we slaughter our own cow from the cooperative, share meat and every member also gets money to buy food such as rice so we enjoy it together,” he said.
Every year, he said, the cooperative pays about Rwf500, 000 premiums for members’ community-based health insurance subscription in addition to distributed money for enjoying festive seasons.
“As we speak, savings worth Rwf2.3 million have been loaned to members and in our bank account we have Rwf1.1 million. This is in addition to all properties such as land, livestock and the harvest itself.
For instance, on land where we are harvesting now, we have so far harvested tomatoes worth Rwf264, 000 and we continue harvesting,” he said.
The members are part of 54 families living in Mbyo reconciliation village – Bugesera District.
A recent baseline survey in the areas of mental health, social cohesion and livelihoods revealed that reinforcing community capacity for social cohesion and reconciliation through societal trauma healing in Bugesera District is the most appropriate and sustainable approach to empower families.
It could also enable them form long-term joint initiatives that positively impact on-going reconciliation processes among themselves as well as their respective families and communities.
Richard Mutabazi, the Mayor of Bugesera District said that the initiative will heal many people who still suffer effects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi effects.
“This will help the community live in unity and reconciliation while benefiting from socio-economic development,” he said.
The cooperative spends savings and income to expand agricultural activities
The families are jointly running income generating activities such as agriculture and livestock. / Photos by Michel Nkurunziza.
Source New Times.